The Christmas Flip Chart December 30 2008, 0 Comments

I have just returned to the warmth of the south having spent the Christmas holiday with my family in Western New York. I had several of my cameras with me in the hopes of capturing some “winter wonderland” images as I drove some 960 miles north. Instead, I spent 19 hours on the road attempting to make it in one piece to my family! The thought of even getting out of my car was simply out of the question. Between the snow, sleet and traffic congestion, I had all I could do to just remain focused on my driving and the driving of those around me.

Instead, I just had to settle for some of the usual “flip chart” images that I am teased about taking every Christmas. Let me explain…

For years now, probably more like decades, I have taken the family Christmas photos, sibling photos, parent photos, grandparents and grandchildren… The photos are neatly printed and placed in photo albums, which are then labeled, dated and placed on a shelf with the past years albums. My oldest brother teases me and tells me that these photos are like a cartoon flip chart. One could flip through and see everyone growing older and in some cases grayer by the year! He tells me to just shoot candids, that standing by the Christmas tree just adds to the years of the “flip chart” images! Actually, in some respects he is right, although I would never tell him that. Some of the funniest photos are those I just grabbed. Some are nothing more than snapshots because that is all that time would allow. The expressions, the spur of the moment reactions tell the Christmas story for that year. I almost always seem to grab a hilarious moment with my younger brother. Some of my all time favorites now loaded into frames that sit on my shelves are those I took just seconds to grab.

My sister’s birthday is on Christmas Eve. We always have a formal dinner and a birthday cake in the shape of a Christmas tree. I load the cake up with candles, something she detests since she is now 48, and we all sing “Happy Birthday”! I have a record number of “flip chart” photos of her blowing out the candles! I photograph her by the Christmas tree and then I photograph her with each daughter and then with both daughters. The list goes on…but there is a purpose for my “flip chart” method. I want her children to have a record of every one of their mother’s birthdays. I want them to remember the way the Christmas trees looks from year to year. And mostly, I want them to remember the tradition of our holidays. I want them to see the photos and remember their childhood. The “flip chart” provides that. The candids indeed set the mood, the anticipation, the excitement. But perhaps there is room for both kinds of photos.